September 4, 2013



Hi, it’s new comic time. And yeah, it’s been a while, and i regret that tremendously. I haven’t been away, i haven’t been busy with other stuff, i haven’t been preoccupied– i just seem to have creative difficulties every summer for whatever reason, and august 2013 was just particularly bad meltdown-wise. Just writing thousands of words and drawing a bunch of pages and then either realizing the idea’s no good or just second-guessing it to death (i’m not even sure which, not that it matters), and then scrapping the whole thing after having wasted days and days on it. I mean i do this periodically, but the scale was just worse this time, and then there was nothing else but to try and make THAT situation into a comic, which i started on, but it was too depressing to work on so that gorily imploded too and suddenly it was the end of august and i had nothing to show for it but insanity and i guess i haven’t failed that hard in a long time. But the good thing about hitting bottom is that there’s nowhere else to go. Sometimes you have to admit you’re trying way, way too hard, and for no reason other than a severe lack of perspective. There’s nobody telling me i’m no good but me.

That’s the upside at least. Once i’d admitted that i was in a uniquely bad and stupid place creatively, the ideas started to return. I know this is all semi-interesting at best, i mean i’m not one to go on and on about my just fascinating personal life, i really don’t enjoy it in fact, i just wanted to get across that when there’s a hiatus it’s not because i’m disinterested– it’s because i want it too much. But i’m working on that. I think i want it the right amount now. Thanks for your patience, its really, really appreciated. Artists are just weird and unbalanced, that’s the takeaway here. Just humor me…


New thing over at cracked recently, for anyone who missed that (the original title was just “reasons to get over yourself,” there aren’t really a lot of tricks in there). And yeah, i’ll try and be more judicious with blog updates in future and mention these things when they happen. It’s just been that kind of month. Self-confidence returning…


Working on a solution so people can read the comix on mobile devices– stay tuned for that. It’ll be via a third-party site, and it’s something i’m really looking forward too because the great unspoken issue in webcomics right now is that something like 25% of internet traffic is mobile-only now, and that number grows every year, and woe betide anyone who doesn’t get with the times because things be changin’. So i’m doing what i can to join the present/future. And fear not, the existing site won’t be changing in any way.

thanks for sticking around,


218 Responses to “Photo”

  1. hanntagonist Says:

    This warmed my heart. ❤

  2. djiril Says:

    Awww… That is all.

  3. ninja_jesus Says:

    Exactly what I expected and hoped for. ❤ Thanks for making another beautiful comic.

  4. Nathan Says:

    I loved that.

  5. Lex Says:


    I’m no stranger to that summer meltdown phase myself. I think it’s just part of the problem of trying to put out quality and creativity, especially at the intense level that you do. If you can take that experience and learn from it, you’re in a better position than 90% of the people who get to that point, so don’t judge yourself too harshly.

    As always with your work, the combination of intelligent humour, artistic talent, and, for want of a better word as it’s 7AM and my brain isn’t working properly yet, genuinely amazing warm-n-fuzzies, never fails to deliver not just art, but an experience. That’s how I feel when I read your work. I fall in love with the characters. I fall in love with the ideas. I fall in love with the combination of fantastic elements in something that is still very uniquely human, and the mind behind it all.

    So, if there’s anything to take away from this long, rambly post, it’s this:

    Good job. You make life a little bit sweeter.


  6. Joe Trudell Says:

    That was sweet. I totally guessed the ending. But as usual you make the journey worthwhile even if the destination is obvious. Thank you, sir, for being part of this world.

  7. I love these strips that are like episodes from the twilight zone 🙂

  8. Sir Exal Says:

    Oddly enough, I think Bernard and Rick are growing to be two of my favorite characters in the comic. Their projects always show a nice insight into human psychology.

    …Favorites, besides, y’know, everyone else.

  9. Jeremy London Says:

    Yay! You’re back and just as good as ever! I also predicted the ending and was pleasantly not disappointed.

  10. Alex Says:

    You seriously are the only one who doubts your talent. You write brilliant comics.

  11. Joey Says:

    That was a perfect ending, and I missed the cues moving towards it through the comic as I was distracted by sympathizing with the existential confusion that lies so near and dear to my heart. Every time you update I am amazed at the poignancy of your work, and there’s never anything wrong with being creatively muddled. The struggle that goes into something directly equates to what comes out.

  12. BubbaDave Says:


    Like most folks I saw the ending coming, and it was perfect. Good stuff as always.

  13. Geoff Shotts Says:

    Awwww!! What an awesome ending. 🙂

  14. Jaerick Says:

    Dude, I don’t know if you read your comments on your blog or if this seems to be a waste of time or whatever, but I don’t want you to think for one fucking second that your work isn’t deeply impactful.

    So yes, maybe I’m a little drunk and maybe this could come off as a little creepy, but here’s a picture of the bottom of my foot.

    At the very least, one comic you have written has resulted in a brain-shattering moment and a rush to a dive tattoo shop for one depressive Seattlite. I get to step on this little son of a bitch hundreds of times every day, and you are 100% to thank for me climbing out of a rut of depression, social isolation and self-loathing.

    Your work is some of the most heartbreakingly human and stop-you-in-your-tracks honest shit that exists on today’s internet. So the next time you have creative difficulties, just think about this weirdo in mind-numbing pain as he gets your work permanently engraved in his flesh, and hopefully that’ll help out a little bit maybe?

    Thanks. I mean it.


    • I was like “what in the hell would anyone ever tattoo on the bottom of their feet??” and then i was like “Ohhhhh…” I too am maybe a little drunk (my friend got a part in that “Defiance” tv show and we were celebrating with the sparkling wine), but that’s literally the greatest thing ever and and it’s honestly a lot to take in but i’ll just say that i’m overwhelmingly honored to be any part at all of anyone feeling better about themselves. Like, seriously. My work is just me trying to feel better about myself half the time, because i just seem to default to zero self-esteem for whatever reason, but the biggest help ever has been this comic strip i’ve been doing and moreover having heard from the other people out there with similar experiences. So thanks to you too, and i too mean it, you can be sure of that.

    • Annesays Says:

      I agree with Jearick,Just to know that there is someone out there that thinks like you, and has these awesome ideas and thoughts, and seem to relate to my own, is a very nice feeling. As the world today seem to be made out of jerks, but you give you are a gem.

  15. Sisiutil Says:

    See, now, this is what great science fiction can be: not just some big blast-fest in space with aliens (not to say that isn’t fun sometimes.) But some of the best SF is “quieter”: insert one advanced technology, for example, then focus on the human impact of it. Ask a simple “What if…?” and answer it (which will inevitably lead to more questions). Tell a story. Keep it rooted in humanity. It’s not about the spaceships and lasers… it’s about people. It’s about US.

    In short, great work as usual. And a very sweet ending to boot. If you had to go through the creative doldrums in August, this certainly makes it worthwhile.

    • Totally– i love your analysis regarding sci-fi. It seriously deserves better than the usual things it’s associated with. It’s totally The Best Genre i think, it’s just horribly abused by hollywood etc. It should definitely be about us, and what it’s like to be us.

    • caliburdeath Says:

      Exactly! Like this, found on Winston’s other home, Cracked…

  16. Ozzy Says:

    As a philosopher I can definitely say I envy the HELL out of you. Every one of your comics captures the human experience perfectly with satire, absurdism, the artistic style, the characters..Seriously, Subnormality has gotten me through so much in life and helped motivate me to keep studying and not shove two pencils in my nose and bang them on the table. Your mind is beautiful and how you synthesize it brightens the lives of so many. We’re rootin’ for ya, Winston.

    • Thanks, that really means a lot. I just want to make art that hopefully conveys in some way what it’s like to be a human being, because so much art does not and i don’t understand why. If i’ve succeeded to any degree then i’m most assuredly honored.

  17. Adam the Penguin Says:

    Hey, I guessed the ending for once! Glad the dread that it would actually be something horrible was completely unfounded.

  18. Goddamnit.
    I hate feeling this warm and fuzzy. XP
    I do like Jon and Synthia though, I can totally relate.

  19. Spike Says:

    I went and got out a picture from my wallet of a 15 year old me. If he saw a picture of me now, he would be impressed with the physically fit well-dressed guy staring back at him, the slouched chubby kid in hand-me-downs. And if he only saw a picture, he would never know that the explosive destructive rages that were just beginning to bedevil him only got worse as he aged, and that he just channeled it into working out and cultivating as refined an image as possible to counter it.

    Appearances can be deceiving. And oddly enough, while I’m angrier than ever, I’m happier than when I was a teen.

  20. New Rule Says:

    Your comic lettering is very dense, do you hand write them? thumbs up!

  21. dusty668 Says:

    Picture Perfect! I can’t help with second guessing but I love the work you do and the stories you tell. Thank you.

  22. gueibor Says:

    Dude, Winston, my man: it’s called summer for a reason. Even drab, untalented people contributing zero to the happiness of others are entitled to a break.
    Go out, smell the roses, look at the birdies, have a smoothie. I’m pretty sure the interwebz will be here when you come back.

  23. Cliff Says:

    Excellent story! It would make a great short film.

  24. This one made my drop a couple of tears. Brilliant!

  25. maarvarq Says:

    Winston, whatever you think of yourself in dark moments, remember that there are many of us for whom a new Subnormality is a shower of rain in the desert. I agree with @Sisiutil – this would make a great short film or TV play.

  26. La fin m’a arraché une larme. Merci Viruscomix !

  27. Sergeant Major Tom Says:

    I’m pretty sure it’s one of the laws of the universe: “Anything done by Winston Rowntree will justify the time taken to do it, provided he never has the cynicism to try to exploit this law.”

  28. Thomas Says:

    I’m in a creative type of work myself and I just emerged from a two-month spell of complete creative blockage. Man, how quickly one’s sense of self-worth can spiral down the toilet! But maybe it was just summer, that’s a time to be at the beach, screw creativity, right? It’s cold most of the year anyway.

    I love this episode. It’s everything I love about Subnormality rolled into one — the bizarre but simple and weirdly compelling idea, the great artwork, the cute details, the freaking walls of text — and with a sweet happy ending that made me cry, so help me god.

    Great job, very well done.

    (By the way, I do get the chicken when I go to fast food places. Keep the faith, fast food workers!)

  29. Epsz Says:

    Well, Mr., you got a tear. That’s all you are getting though.


  30. Kamaria Says:

    Damn. Right in the solar plexus.

  31. Edwin Says:

    Ah man! Nice very nice, you comics are amazing, so glad this one had a happy ending, one can’t but root for the characters.

  32. tania Says:

    woah… felt good to read that. I am studying photography and crisis like that are my worst nemesis, regularly sucking out all the goodness out of me. (it’s funny though, I call that my winter crisis)
    I am surprised though that you still go through such phases after 6 year of subnormality and all the support your get from that (btw, here is a little more : dude I love ya, like seriously your comics have been making me feel better about things so many times, they re like, so awesome you know… ouf, glad I got that out of the way).
    So yeah i started that comment by saying that it felt good to read about your doubts… and i guess it does prove that doubts are not a sign that one’s work actually is bad and that one should actually just stop (doesn’t mean it’s good either, it s just not an indicator) but it also means that those crisis never go away. bleh. A long way to go. Wouldn’t mind asking my future self about it.

    • Self-doubt is a part of this complete breakfast unfortunately, but i like to think it’s there for a reason at least– that it’s at least tied in with being a good person maybe. Hopefully. I’m thankful for doubt in some perverse way, despite the horrible moments.

  33. itsathought2 Says:

    I can’t imagine reading this comic on anything smaller than a decent sized tablet. It will be interesting to see what it turns out like on a mobile app.
    You are always so creative with your use of space and “frames”, except you often sort of merge the frame with the larger picture, so it’s hard to see how to make it work. I’m looking forward to see the solution.

  34. Infanttyrone Says:

    Even though I kind of anticipated the ending, the last panel made my eyes well up instantly.

    You are great at what you do. Thanks for sharing it.

  35. Kyle Says:

    My feels… Are all over the place right now

  36. carlos Says:

    Wow! your work is ever fascinating, but, this one, realy touch me!

  37. Karhe Says:

    Suddenly, so much dust in the room, oh, something must be wrong with my eyes 🙂
    Beautiful and touching, as always, thank you!

  38. chaosprime Says:

    Exactly what Infanttyrone said. ❤

  39. Rob G Says:

    have never felt the need to comment on this site before but I have always enjoyed your work, however this one takes the cake. Wow! just wow.

  40. Duke E. De'Gryn Says:

    Must be rainin’ cos a man ain’t supposed to cry.
    But I look up, and I don’t see a cloud..

    They got me boss, they got me…

  41. Alexis Says:

    Brother, it took SOOOOOOO long for this new one to come up, but I absolutely love it. I will wait for as long as it takes for whatever you do next.

  42. Bart Massey Says:

    Saw the ending coming, but it was still totally awesome. Literally brought a tear to my eye. Thank you so much for Subnormality.

  43. gt7h1 Says:

    Yes, you know how the pic is going to be, but still… That’s a master story-telling skill. Another one with tearing eyes.

  44. You have a new subscription whoever you are. I saw the ending coming but it still made me tear up.

  45. Vlad Says:

    Welcome back WR

  46. Mystyr Nile Says:

    This is my first time seeing this comic. That was a great ending.

  47. Beautiful story. And, yes, the ending isn’t a surprise, but it is worth it. 🙂

  48. edcarlson Says:

    Holy. Crap. Best ending yet. I didn’t tear up this much since the end of Watership Down.

  49. matt Says:

    Jesus. All I can say is that I was very touched by this.

  50. Tom Says:

    You are amazing, really.
    You are one of the best web comic artists out there: you don’t need to be perfect because you are great as you always have been. Will you keep on being great? Imdon’t know, but I love your work and I just want you to be happy 🙂

  51. Flufflepot Says:

    This would make a great short film – loved it!

  52. JW Says:

    The girl looks Persian. I like that about your characters, the way they’re drawn makes them very non-generic and with lots of personality.

    • ron Says:

      You’re just saying that because she has a huge nose! (Which I think is true, and hilarious. Bahahahaha)

  53. hagure Says:

    wah! Tearing up here at work!

    You’re the best, Winston; Thank you.

  54. Gregory Says:

    I liked it. it made me happy. i miss that

  55. Thomas Birch Says:

    I’m guessing that the two guys who own the business are Bernard and his bespectacled friend. Love those guys, I want to make a Non-Religious Confessional. That should be a thing in every city.

  56. Whitey Says:

    Another one that had me laughing, the tearing at the end. Always a good show.

  57. Spider Says:

    Wow, exactly what I needed to see today. Thank you for fighting through the perfectionism that tries to suffocate creation.

    A good portion of my love,

  58. Mark L Says:

    I have read every single one of your comics on this site and have been a fan for like 3 years maybe, and I can honestly say this one is my all time favorites. I will now go about sending this to as many people as possible.


  59. You are the best, the absolute best, and I appreciate the gorgeous art and stories you make maybe more than you might think people do. You deserve all the recognition you receive and more. Thank you for making your art.

  60. Brandon Says:

    Hooooly Shit, bookmarked.

  61. Grimm Says:

    That was beautiful. I’m glad it ended the way it did.

  62. aww 🙂

    kind of reminds me of the “Machine of Death” – a book of short stories about a machine that tells a person the cause of his/her death, causing much confusion. however those stories (so far at least, kinda had to stop) are quite depressing, unlike this one

    • Hors Service Says:

      I concur totally! 😀
      But not all of the stories are depressing, hopefully;)

      Winston, if I may be so bold to be so familiar, you should check it out! It started as a joke on Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comic, and next thing you know a bunch of talented webcomics artists and amateurs were putting together a book of short stories about exactly this: a machine takes a sample of your blood, and gives back a card with the nature of your death. Nobody knows how it works, except that it is always right and it has a twisted humor.

      Also, the book beated Glenn Beck’s, and made him angry, which is always a nice plus.

  63. Laurie Says:

    That last panel took me by complete surprise. In all honesty I got teary-eyed. No matter how much you think you can’t or how long your hiatus is, please keep coming back and making these. I’ll always read every word.

  64. Francisco Osegueda Says:

    Fantastic! it’s a wonderful, intelligent and cute love story from 20 years in the future, i really would like to have that machine, and i love the realism in almost nobody believing it (..yea rite), it’s truly a wonderful comic, too bad it took too long to read, i’ll travel 20 years in the future just to read more viruscomix now, haha

  65. Doyle Says:

    heh. best thing all day. it doesn’t make it a good day, but it DOES make it a very good comic. thanks again!

  66. localvagrant Says:

    Saw that ending coming a mile away and it was still lovely.

  67. Alberto Brian Vega Says:

    The new comic brought tears to my eyes – EVEN AFTER I ACCIDENTALLY SWIPED DOWN AND SAW HOW IT ENDS!

    You done good; I love it.

    Thank you. ~Alberto los angeles, CA

  68. Beautiful comic, good sir. I love it!

  69. Teo Says:



  70. Joe Says:

    I hope no one walks into my cubicle to see a grown man with tears in his eyes. No one wants to see that.

    Wonderful comic, sir!

  71. Bar_Barian Says:

    I’ve heard it argued that comics aren’t art because they can make you laugh, but they can’t make you cry. Obviously this is incorrect, but if I ever have to convince someone of that, I’ll be coming here for sure.

    • Mystyr Nile Says:

      Also, making people laugh is still art.
      But yeah, saying a medium arbitrarily can’t do something every other medium CAN do is just absurd.

  72. bmaryott Says:

    I told people the pollen count was high. You can pull out an emotion.

    You take all the time you need to do these. We’ll be here when you finish one.

  73. Miles Dryden Says:

    My only complaint is that she has her ring on the wrong hand in the photo. Other than that, this was perfect.

  74. Beautiful, as always.

  75. Alex Says:

    I think I literally squee’d at the end there. So many feels.

  76. Once again I see exactly how the comic will finish about half way through and once again it’s still incredible. Well done!

  77. Synalon Says:

    This is such a cool strip!

  78. Also, did anyone else think of Mitch Hedberg? “‘Here’s a picture of me when I was younger’? Man, *every* picture is of you when you were younger! ‘Here’s a picture of me when I’m olllder.’ Holy shit man, where’d you get that camera at?!”

  79. mellownade Says:

    Sounds like you have a textbook case of perfectionism, Winston. Don’t worry though, it’s pretty common among artists. Just try to remember the difference between “being honest” and “being kind of a dick” to yourself when you are judging your own work (pretend your best friend drew it and go from there).

    Also if that’s the Terry from the Superhighway strip I’m not sure how I feel about that… ¬.¬

    • Naw, different Terry, i just like recycling names apparently… And yeah, thanks for the kind words– it’s definitely hard to remember to not treat yourself so much harder than you would another person, but i’m trying i think…

    • Sisiutil Says:

      Heh, my wife is a prolific fiction writer and goes through this. She sometimes reuses names without meaning to, then some of her avid readers notice and think it’s hinting at some deeper connection and meaning when really, her subconscious just keeps recycling the same names. She tries to avoid doing it now.

  80. J42 Says:

    I enjoyed this, thank you

  81. Jess Says:



  82. Adamantium Q-Tip Says:

    Touching and really imaginative. Thanks for creating this.

  83. Bryant Says:

    Yay! I check everyday to see if there’s a new comic! Stoked!

  84. henry Says:

    Aw that was beautiful. Welcome back Winston 🙂 I genuinely teared up.

  85. henry Says:

    Mate, I gotta start looking for jobs on craigslist

  86. lynchy Says:


  87. Federix111 Says:

    I have to remember not to check this at work, I had to fake an allergy attack to explain why I suddenly started crying…

  88. …godsdamnit. crying.

  89. Trent Says:

    I didn’t see the end coming, and I’m glad I didn’t. When was the last time something on the computer made me cry? A while, I should think. Expertly done, as usual.

  90. Phil C. Says:

    Ho-hum, another day, another Subnormality comic that has my eyes welling and my throat tightening. You make emotional comics with such effortless ease.

    I’m so delighted for the two of them. Looks like they’ve been very happy together.

    Also, I know you struggle with self-confidence and self-worth issues, but I’m here to tell you (as many others have) that you have PLENTY of worth, and talent, and skill. We love to see what you write and draw and we always get happy flutters when we see there’s a new Subnormality.

    So…..keep writing and drawing, man. Never doubt that you have an appreciative audience who loves your work, and is happy to wait while you work on your personal identity / second-guessing issues.


  91. Alex Says:

    Knew exactly how it was going to end, still cried.

  92. Keith Says:

    Loved it. Saw it coming but I still loved it. Great stuff. Keep it up.

  93. hagamablabla Says:

    God damn it, that’s another point to you guys.
    I can never guess what kind of an ending it’s going to be.

  94. caliburdeath Says:

    I think it’s quite lucky that I discovered you in the summer; otherwise I mightn’t have been able to spend two days straight reading through your archives…
    I’m quite glad that, when I saw your lengthier comics, I did not just go TL;DR like some of my friend with whom I shared it.
    Your comics create such a depth and reality, that you just become… immersed in them.
    This is no exception.
    As for whether the time of waiting was worth it, I don’t think you can really say that… because, that time was going to be spent whether or not you released a comic. Either way, if this was time you needed to get back into a state of enough confidence to release a piece half as good as this, it could’ve taken double the time and still have been ‘worth it’.

  95. Alastair Macfarlane Says:

    Great ending !

  96. dnarby Says:

    Best Virus Comix EVA.

  97. Finn Says:

    I have the biggest smile on my face right now. Thank you, Winston.

  98. spideycow Says:

    Awww! That just made my day! Nice job, dude!

  99. dave Says:

    So good. As always. Thanks

  100. Amanda Says:

    Right in the feels, man! I love your comic and recommend it to everyone. Try to remember that there are plenty like me out there when you doubt yourself!

  101. Dogma Dies Says:

    This is heartwarming, Mr Rowntree 🙂

  102. I think I just got a tear in my eye. Very nice ending.

  103. Ensorcer Says:

    Heh, nice as always, props to you man. Keep it up please, these actually get me through the day :D.

  104. gregm91436 Says:

    I was hoping it would end that way. 🙂 Great comic. Reminiscent of Carol Lay’s “Story Minute,” which used to run on salon. The colors are great, too. (Here via io9, which linked to your “People from Future Keep Trying to Kill Hitler” strip.

  105. Jos'h Says:

    I’ve tried to write this comment three times now. “A Photo of Yourself from the Future” is just about perfect. Perfect setup, perfect payoff. And what a payoff. Thanks for doing this comic!

  106. The Old Wolf Says:

    Aw damn. Onions, onions everywhere! Winston, stop chopping onions! *snif*

  107. pepikaboo Says:

    this’ll be one of my favorite strips… it’s relevant and touching

  108. henry Says:

    Damn I re-read this just now and the payoff is even better second time around. Winston you should be proud of this one.

  109. henry Says:

    Actually, stop a second and think about this. The perfect ending would be for the machine to break so that they never got to see the photo. Seeing the photo would create so many expectations in each of their minds that no normal relationship could survive. They are being trolled by their future selves. What pressure that would put on the relationship.

    Plus talking of trolls, photobombers would be a problem. Also the mischievous subject themselves, playing a prink on their previous selves, or friends and relatives with a grudge.

    In fact, hang on. What’s to stop the future selves holding up a sign saying “Put $50 on Fast Horsey at Cheltenham at 50:1 and buy Corpderp stock”?

  110. Andy Says:

    Thank you so much all the time Winston. Yours are the best webcomics ever.

  111. Artaphia Says:

    Damn, the conversation is just so brilliant. I am continuously dazzled by your ability to make all the characters and interactions completely natural and real. I really admire you.
    Every comic strip is so human.
    I can feel it right to the bone.
    I’ll be here, waiting for you next work.

  112. Dan Says:

    This week has been one of the worst weeks
    of my life but this made it slightly better. Thank you for your post, your articles, your comix, your talent, and your time. Just thank you. I don’t know if you know the story of the Star Thrower but you made a difference to me.

  113. Chelsea Says:

    Aargh, I love your work. I see an update pop up in my RSS feed and I find myself saying “Yay!” out loud before I even think about it.

    When I got to the last panel on this one, I burst into tears and threw my head back laughing at the same time. Catharsis!

    Thank you for persisting in the struggle to make stuff. It matters.

  114. A Race Says:

    Winston, your comics are like perfect little short stories with great art attached to them. There is no webcomic out there with better writing than you. A lot of webcomics have great art, but you have the best writing that I have seen. In a comic that takes me about 10 minutes to read, you create very real, very personable characters and the dialogue is just truly outstanding. I can’t even pin down exactly what is is, but it seems like you really get the problems that each of us deals with on an existential level, you just totally nail what it means to be human. Yes I saw the ending coming, but what’s weird is that an ending like this should have me rolling my eyes. On one level I know it is cheesy and predictable, but somehow I still feel like you earned the emotional reaction that I had because you had built such real characters. This is one of the best short sci-fi pieces I have ever seen. It reminds me of true classic sci-fi, where the characters and their choices and dialogues were more important than the sci-fi “gimmick” for lack of a better word.

    This was a long-winded post, and I feel like I still can’t say exactly what it is about your comics that I adore so much, but I’ll just say you have mastered the art.

  115. Michael Says:

    Inspired, is all I can say 🙂

  116. Mystyr Nile Says:

    Some guy on TvTropes pointed out that you can interpret the whole “Down at the X” thing differently! XD

    • Joe Trudell Says:

      That blew my mind until I remembered that Ethel was featured in “Down at the Museum of the Theoretical”

    • Mystyr Nile Says:

      Well, maybe those were Down being at places, and “Down at the Museum of the Theoretical” was when Ethel was down at there. Maybe it was an adverb in that title and a proper noun everywhere else. 😛

  117. steve Ashton Says:


  118. Enfermero Torero Says:

    Once again, you made my day better. Don´t worry too much about the delays, it´s always worth the wait to begin with, and you obviously put a lot of effort in your work, so no sensible person should feel cheated.
    I loved the mixture of science fiction and human warmth in this story, by the way.

    • Joe Trudell Says:

      I have 3 favorite things that always take a long time between installments, and are always worth the wait;
      A Song of Ice and Fire books
      Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast
      and Subnormality comics

      Not necessarily in that order 🙂

  119. Magnanimous Says:

    Those goosebumps I get reading your comics never get old, Winston.

    Amazing work. If this is how much time you need, you take it ever time.

  120. Elodia7 Says:

    Always worth the wait. 🙂 This one was very sweet.

  121. beK Says:

    I’ve been reading your comics for years. This is the first comic I can ever remember reading (from anywhere) that elicited such a strong emotional response. It didn’t bring just one tear to my eye. Truly amazing. I always look forward to Subnormality whenever it updates.

  122. aqua Says:

    YES!! that is awesome! best reason for hiring people for that

  123. That was…SUPER CUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  124. Weaver Says:

    Excellent – somebody should film that. Is The Outer Limits still going? 😉

  125. BenjiCG Says:

    AWW that made me SO HAPPY XD
    truly did make my evening

  126. Blaise Says:

    I knew what the ending would be before I was even a third of the way in, but that didn’t make it any less meaningful or emotional. Brilliant.

  127. Dave H Says:

    Oh, that was lovely

  128. What Blaise said. I knew it all along, yet it was somehow still a happy surprise at the end.

  129. Bill W Says:

    Winston, you’re awesome. You’re so creative. and you share your passion with us for free. No matter the type of comic it is that week, the fact that you’re living your passion has inspired me to follow my heart.

    Anyway, so long and thanks for all the fish

    • Joe Monterrubio Says:

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

      Thanks very much, Winston. I enjoy Subnormality immensely, you are an amazing illuminator of the human condition in all of its delightfully odd ways.

  130. Julian Says:

    I love this so much…

  131. mikedamike Says:

    ❤ you bring tears to my eyes every time thank you.

  132. Thane Says:

    Dude… !! So great. I just popped over to the blog portion of your site to say “wow” or something. That was such a beautiful strip.

    Turns out your blog doesn’t just exist for your followers to shower you with accolades [and voice our curiosity for your whereabouts]–it’s really nice to hear what you’ve been up to.

    Obviously the circumstances could have been happier.

    Still though, I really appreciate the terrible glimpse into your creative process. The comic is great, but I always check out the few words you have for the behind-the-scenes. It’s got to be strange to have so many people interested in your struggle.

  133. Frank Says:

    This is… so beautiful

    I hate to have to tell you it’s “queue”, not “cue”

    Please don’t hate me! I love your work! keep doing it!

  134. crand Says:

    The amount of tears that came out of my face makes me think I should make an appointment with a shrink.

  135. You strip, although randomly updated, is why I check my set of comics every day. You newest strip gets a “wow,” I looked at it over a week ago, but WordPress was messing with me.

  136. Hafwit Says:

    That made me glad.

  137. Holy shit. Got something in my eye…

  138. Hannah Haskell Says:

    That is so… Wow. You really know how to write about/illustrate the human condition. I love your work! This made me tear up a little…

  139. flondrix Says:

    I saw the ending coming, but it is still so sweet.

  140. Becky Says:

    That was beautiful!

  141. Holy shit stop. Stop writing essays into comics. I see these comics passed around the internet as a joke but I didnt realize they were serious. Fucking christ “hurr i want to write novels but my writing is so bad im just going to flood my comics with words to get a semi articulate point across

    • Sergeant Major Tom Says:

      Oh look, a “dress up my myopia as objectivity” Johnny-come-lately who seems to think he’s the first one to have and articulate any such thoughts on the subject at hand. How novel. Never seen one of those.

      (Well, to be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve noticed any around these parts. It was a good run, this being the Internet and all.)

    • Yeah, anyone who wants to perturb me via troll comments or whatever is about five years too late. Eventually you realize, hey i’m one of the few people paying the rent via art and getting extraordinarily generous feedback, it was the idiots who were wrong.

      And eventually you realize that the only thing that angry people are saying is “I am angry.” I’ve been there, i used to hate, i used to be all “i am unsuccessful therefore the world = shit and success is for losers,” not being able to handle differing opinions and such. Good luck with whatever you’re unhappy about though. Now i’m just like hey, your username reminds me i haven’t heard that song in a while, let’s give’r…

    • Sisiutil Says:

      BOOM! Pwned.

      Reminds me of this Cracked article (not by WR, but still pretty good):

    • Joe Trudell Says:

      Well, you’re kind of a dick, aren’t ya?

  142. FBB Says:

    I’ll just sidestep all that up there, and say that I love your comics. This one was especially wonderful. Thank you.

  143. Carlos Says:

    There was a point I knew how this was going to end… still loved every panel of it.

  144. James Says:

    If I had the capacity, I would fund this as a short film… or maybe a feature. Excellent!

  145. jessedpc Says:

    I love the hell out of this, and I didn’t see the ending coming because I assumed it was going to spit out pictures of skeletal remains to everyone.

  146. LtLexay Says:

    Goddamn. All the feels that end generates. Very nice comic there.

  147. magic-esi Says:

    This was so lovely. Worth the wait. I saw the ending coming, too, but it didn’t make it any less beautiful.

  148. TR Says:

    Like others, I suspected the ending. And like others, I cried when I got there. Damn, I’m still crying! Now that’s a sign of art that truly expresses the best of the human condition.

  149. WINSTON!

  150. Says:

    That was the best cartoon I have ever read; better, even, than 7 dichotomies in a bar, also the best short story and the best Twilight Zone. Very, very nice work, sir. Thank you.

  151. BenjiCG Says:

    this will be the third time I’ve read this comic XD
    still just as cute

  152. Deltarno Says:

    While I enjoy the comics about introspection, the soft feeling comics are quite enjoyable.

  153. ronnie Says:

    I saved this one as long as i could. really great, thanks Winston

  154. Davy Says:

    I love that the characters have the same expression in the opening and closing panel. simply beautiful touch on top of this story. I am not here to profess my love for your work ms. Rowntree fruit pastels (I suspect you are a woman by the way/hope you are one) I reckon you have seen enough of that on here. rather I would like to show my appreciation for all the people that leave kind and clever comments here which give me hope for the world. Thanks for everything David Hume

  155. demure Says:

    ok, this one made me tear up! Thank you!!!

  156. zedd Says:

    I teared up. You have amazing ideas, there are so many comics where you’ve thought about something from an angle I wouldn’t have, or you’ve captured the dialogue in such a realistic way. Thanks for doing what you do.

  157. Paul Says:

    such a perfect way to finish. Beautiful.

  158. giersh Says:

    This made me smile…. =]

  159. Predictable.

    Why do you think it was necessary for the shop to be there?

    History had to be made to happen the right way. It was a needful thing.

    Also… emotionally, very, very satisfying, for me at least. Wr, you’re not just good, you’re very very good.

  160. Rev. Elgaroo Brenza Says:


    Could have gone SOOO many different ways, but ended up gold, and I had no clue until just at the right time at the very end, bravo!

    Thanks, I’m hooked…) REAL sci-fi / speculative fiction AND quite an inspirational web-comic…!!

  161. Sam Sheekey Says:

    Wow, way to slam some emotions in my face!
    That was such an in depth, out-of-the-box concept. You have blown me away with that sketch, well done!

  162. nkh Says:

    Awwwwwwwwwwwww! I did pretty much see the end coming, but it still provoked a surprisingly strong reaction from me.

  163. Katherine Says:

    I must have changed the settings on my browser addons or my brain or something because I just suddenly saw the ‘Leave a comment’ button for the first time. I just wanted to say I LOVE your comics SO much, always well worth the read to me.

  164. Kev Says:


    Really like your work dude. Keep it up!

  165. Nick Miners Says:

    I just read this a second time. And it made me cry again.

  166. Soetopiae Says:

    Thanks Winston!!!

  167. The ending was perfect! But I also really wish we could see their reaction to the picture!

  168. Laurie Says:

    Wow so true, I take the message to say; we all really should look at the more positive possible outcome of life. Try hard but with positive stress to do your best, fallow your hearts and help each other (like these two in the skit). Then I believe phenomenally a person will find happiness or to say attract it. But of course that person needs to be willing to recognize or see it in their present reality. As the years go by people learn more about themselves etc. So then grow and change; we need to be OK with this and continue to fallow our hearts without boundary.
    I’m 45 yrs old, and a mom. My son is 21. I think of his future everyday. He has no idea how much this meditation on him and his bro. n sister affect my daily life. Plus questions like “Am I doing the right things in my life today to bring positive relationships and a happy future for us?” (people mean most to me). My oldest son sent me this skit through Skype. How wonderful is it to have a son to worry about? Be open and they will never cease to amaze you. After reading this and thinking it over, I feel our futures will be perfectly grand; just as they should be. Who agrees with me? In addition… Yes true; Life can appear and seem to be quite mysterious…

  169. rasmodeus Says:

    Amazing, and such an emotional jolt. Your comics I have to go over twice; once to get the story and follow the dialogue, and then again to see the details and appreciate it fully because it was that good.

  170. Vince Says:

    I see a movie writer in the future!

  171. RF Says:

    *sniff* – saw the ending coming and it still brought a tear. Thank you Mr Rowntree.

  172. allen Says:

    You’re a wonderful storyteller. Thank you. 🙂

  173. Jason Says:

    The 4th time I’ve read it, and I’m still tearing up. Like literal actual tears rolling down my face.

  174. WKCIA Says:


    I’ve just come across this comic (after many years of occasionally popping in) and I’ve been blown away by this comic.

    I have my own particular interpretation of why it’s so wonderful to me. The ostensible cool sci fi story is actually an exploration of the human condition for “taking that first leap” into love itself.

    Doesn’t it just seem like a scam at first, with danger and cynicism all around?

    And then there’s stories of other people and how they’ve gone through life (some with unhappy endings), and then shared experiences, and fear at the unknown, and coming together and sharing your fate and taking a leap of faith together…

    Just like all good love stories do, actually.

    But just like all good sci fi stories do, the story it wants to tell us is hidden behind the technology that makes it fun and fantastical.

    And, since it’s sci fi, we now know how the leap of faith ends, which a normal story couldn’t. This time, it’s “happily ever after.”

    All in the guise of a cute story about a time distorting fax machine.

    Thank you for making me warm and fuzzy.

  175. Every time I read this, my eyes get moist.

  176. Benjamin Says:

    wow. that was fuckin great. feels

  177. Priyansha Gupta Says:

    I know this comment is 4 years too late but I really really wanted to thank you for this comic. What a wonderful gift this one is. I love you for making it the way you did.

  178. D Crux Says:

    Fuck you, Winston R. I’m going through the archives and this is the second time I’ve had to stop and have a weep. And more than that: now I have to go write my novel some more and stop pretending that I don’t care.

    Inspiration hurts.


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